One year gone: BAN raises red flag on suspension of Auditor General

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By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) has again expressed grave concern over the snail pace at  which the tribunal proceedings were unfolding, which has created uncertainty as to when all of that would end.

Lara Taylor-Pearce and one of her deputy, Tamba Momoh, were suspended one year ago and a tribunal was set up since November 18, 2021, to look into the alleged misconduct for which charges were only brought up by the state almost seven (7) months after their suspension.

“In our previous press statements’ dated 11″ November 2021 and March 2022 on this matter, Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) reminded the Government of Sierra Leone not to undermine public accountability, which is fundamental for good governance and development. Our press statements also appealed to the government to refrain from actions that would hamper efforts in maintaining fiscal discipline and accountable use of public resources,” the release reads.

According to BAN, the Auditor-General and team have over the years offered immense support to uncover corruption and mismanagement of public resources, adding that it is evident in several audit reports, which were also utilized in the last Commission of Inquiry.

“It goes to say that the suspended Auditor General and her team have been very committed to their work to ensure effective financial management of public resources”.

BAN pens that it strongly supports the statement of IMF in the Article IV Review calling for the financial and operational independence of the Audit Service Sierra Leone, to be a priority and the need for timely action to ensure the independence to safeguard confidence in the management of public resources.

In the IMF Article IV Review, the government states, “We are also committed to strengthening the ASSL’s independence. We are committed to a time-bound and transparent tribunal tor the suspended auditor general and her deputy”. However, the BAN claimed that the public was not aware of any timeline set by the tribunal and strongly urged the government to uphold its commitment made in the Article IV Review by publishing a clear and transparent timeline for the tribunal process.

“While we still hold on to our position for His Excellency the President to reverse such a decision, we are equally very much concerned about the Tribunalľ’s slow pace, which tends to further derail the audit accountability architecture in Sierra Leone”.

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